by Joel Stein, Tod Goldberg, Daniel Radosh, Rob Walker, Ned Vizzini, Jade Walker, Adam Finley, Joe Lavin, Brian Lewandowski, Matt Hinrichs, Ron Hogan, and Bob Sassone
1. Andy Borowitz
When Andy – who retired after creating The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – isn’t on television or speaking at a college, he is putting out daily, Onion-style news parody.
2. Em and Lo
The best sex advice anyone has ever delivered. Often, oddly, about eating more fiber.
3. Bitch Magazine
Smart, funny feminist critique on pop culture. It’s a cheap way to feel good about my bad male self.
The best place to steal column ideas from.
5. Big Head Bad Hair
Dave Chrisman has a really weird sense of humor. Like teaching his English class in Korea how to flash gang signals.
Joel Stein is a columnist for the Sunday L.A. Times and a contributor to Time.
1. The Prelinger Archives
Huge repository of “ephemeral films” — amusing as kitsch, invaluable as little documents of history. This is what the www was made for.
2. Television Without Pity forums
For the record, I don’t like the main part of TWoP — too-long writeups of popular TV shows dripping with smug irony. But the addictive reader forums are another story altogether. I prefer my snark in bite-sized pieces, thank you.
3. Boing Boing
Boing Boing inspired me (and doubtless thousands others) to start a weblog. Years later, it’s still managed to stay fresh and eccentric despite its megapopularity.
4. Tick Tock Toys archives and galleries
Just a place to explore pictures of seemingly every children’s toy, food, and plaything from the ’50s-’70s.
5. Bubblegum Machine
Two mp3s a week of fantastically obscure, campy music from the recent past. The collection would already make for a pretty hip iPod playlist. Hopefully he’ll continue on until the site’s a database for every embarrassing (but wonderful) pop tune ever made.
Matt Hinrichs runs Scrubbles.net.
*** ADAM FINLEY
1. Exploding Dog
I once wrote a lengthy piece for Ironminds.com about Sam Brown’s introspective stick people, and I’m not about to bore myself by writing about it again, except to say that his knack for presenting complexity in a simple manner is exactly what drew me to the work of Charles Schulz when I was younger.
2. Strip Creator
A site that lets you create your own comic strip by inserting characters and backgrounds from several different online strips and adding your own dialogue.
The best online comic strip, and perhaps a contender for best comic strip not drawn by a dead guy, period. Damn near impossible to describe to the uninitiated without making up new adjectives like “Twilight Zone-y,” or “A.A. Milne-after-being-clubbed-on-the-head-esque.”
And, in honor of the deceased:
Leisure Town, a mesh of posable toys and photographed backgrounds, still remains one of the most original and hilarious sites I’ve ever seen, even after it closed its doors. For a blast from the past, check out this mirror.
5. Timmy Big Hands
The folks who brought us “Mystery Science Theater 3000” tried their hand at a Web site, and in his short life ol’ Timmy concocted some funny comic strips, essays, faux ads, a serial novel, and an enthralling Flash game called “Apologize to Steve.”
Adam Finley lives in Minneapolis.
*** JADE WALKER
Allow me to preface this list with a confession. I do just about everything online. The majority of my writing is for online markets. I buy everything — from groceries to books, clothing to Christmas trees — on the Web. I borrow books from the local library’s Website, and the building is only three blocks away. If I could permanently attach a hard drive to my brain and simply download my thoughts, I would.
With that in mind, selecting five “favorite” Websites was nearly impossible. So, I simply chose the first five that came to mind:
By far, the most useful site for my journalistic endeavors. It won’t help you find everything on the Web, but it will point you in the right direction.
2. Poynter Online
Poynter is the media’s water cooler. Updated constantly, the site offers topical news stories, useful commentary and articles on how to become a better journalist.
Worth1000 is directory of Photoshop contests. I’m artistically unworthy, but I enjoy browsing the 3,600 galleries of altered images created by artists from all over the world.
Over the years, I’ve utilized several online dictionaries, but none of them compare to this one. Enter a word, any word, and you’ll receive a definition, a pronunciation, related Websites and matching terms. Looking for more specialized definitions? This site also offers a computer dictionary, a medical dictionary, a dream dictionary and a thesaurus.
5. Ill Will Press
Home of the best online cartoon on the Web — “Noirotically Yours”. Each animation, created by Jonathan Ian Mathers, stars “Your lord and master, Foamy the squirrel.” Fans of this site can view a new cartoon each week, purchase Foamy-related merchandise or join the Foamy Card Cult. (Three of my favorite archived episodes are “Five More Minutes,” “Free Your Mind” and “Spell-A-Casters.”)
Jade Walker is the editor of Siren Song and the writer behind The Blog Of Death. She freelances for The New York Times On The Web and Bookmarks, and is the former editor-in-chief of Inscriptions Magazine, which won four awards from Writer’s Digest.
*** TOD GOLDBERG
I am a sports fanatic, living and dying for the Oakland A’s, Oakland Raiders and Golden State Warriors (okay, I don’t really follow the Warriors that much anymore, because 30 years of sucking is just too much for one person to take…and the Lakers play two hours from my house and they’ve only really sucked for the last 15 games and that year when Randy Pfund coached them) and ESPN.com covers my teams as comprehensively — perhaps more so — than most local papers might. Plus, since I’m in, like, 30 fantasy sports leagues, ESPN.com also provides me with up to date stats and all the Orbitz pop ups a guy could want.
I don’t remember the first time I visited 10 Eastern, but I now return weekly to see the new “found photos” the site’s proprietor has posted. I am fascinated by these people — smiling, crying, puking, kissing, making weird faces, sunbathing (there’s a lot of those), looking vaguely Eastern European (a lot of those, too) and pierced in all sorts of places — and how much they all end up looking like each other. I think one day I’ll write a short story about one of those pictures, or, perhaps, I’ll fall in love with one of the people – a la Christopher Reeve in Somewhere In Time – and will find a mystical way to find them. I suppose my wife might get pissed by that, but, hey, she’d admire my tenacity I’m sure.
3. Sorry Everybody
A month on and I still can’t believe it.
Remember Infoseek? Remember Excite? Remember Alta Vista? Remember Lycos? Remember MetaCrawler? Remember Northern Lights? Remember Yahoo, for god’s sake? Remember all those search engines that promised us the world? I use Google constantly, for both business and pleasure, and for the great joy I find in people typing the search string “my” “mom” “spanked” “my” “penis” “with” “a” “brush” and somehow landing on my website.
I love to read about the stupidity of celebrities. And I like to see pictures of Tara Reid and Lindsey Lohan barely dressed. Sue me.
Tod Goldberg is the author of the novels Living Dead Girl and Fake Liar Cheat, and the short story collection The Last Time We Never Met, which will be released in September 2005. He writes a weekly column in the The Las Vegas Mercury.
*** NED VIZZINI
1. The Hun (Note: NOT SAFE FOR WORK.)
I don’t understand how the porn industry still exists with this site around. They are performing a great service for the men of the world, and for plenty of girlfriends too. They would be name-checked in my book, but we’d have gotten sued.
2. Drudge Report
Matt Drudge saw the potential of the internet as a news medium clearer than anyone else. The right-wing slant is forgivable because of the absolutely killer science and weirdo news.
3. Odd Todd
Hilarious 7-minute flash movies. As good as The Simpsons. “tOdd,” as he cleverly calls himself, is his own art form.
Introduced to me by Marty Beckerman. Forget Googling yourself. Feedster, the Google that searches blogs only and provides you with answers by date posted, will show you how relevant you really are.
Ned Vizzini is the 23-year-old author of two acclaimed books. His novel Be More Chill, released in 2004 by Hyperion/Miramax Books, has been published in the UK and Germany (with France, the Netherlands, and Italy on the way) and has been optioned for film by the Weitz Brothers, the production team responsible for the American Pie movies. Ned’s first book, Teen Angst? Naaah…, was published when the author was 19 by Free Spirit Publishing and later picked up by Random House. Honored by New York is Book Country, BookSense, YALSA and the New York Public Library for his work, he has spoken at New York University, the Dalton School, and the National Association for Gifted Children. He lives in Park Slope, NY.
*** RON HOGAN
1. Talking Points Memo
Josh Marshall’s one of the best political commentators we have, period, and we’re extremely lucky that we get to see him for free on the Internet. And in real time, too!
2. Copy, right?
Because where else will you find rockabilly covers of Echo & the Bunnymen or Jason Falkner having a go at Def Leppard’s “Photograph,” if not here?
4. Progressive Ruin
I don’t really read comic books that much any more, but thanks to Mike Sterling’s snappy commentary, I have a pretty good idea what I’m missing… AND I get to relive my high school and college years!
5. A Word A Day
The title says it all, really. Haven’t really learned any new words from it, but I have learned the origins of a bunch of words I use about once a year or two.
Ron Hogan publishes the literary newsblog Beatrice.com out of his New York City apartment. His first book, The Stewardess Is Flying The Plane, will be released in the fall of 2005.
*** ROB WALKER
1. Trash Log
One piece of trash per day.
2. The Blog Of Death
The best obit blog that I’m aware of.
3. Agenda Inc.
Definitive source for brand news. If you’re into that sort of thing.
4. Illegal Art
Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age. An important project.
5. Singing Bridges
Seems like one pick should be something that is my favorite now, and that I only first looked at about an hour ago, but that in a month I may well have forgotten about. That’s kind of the reality of the Web I think. These are sound files, recordings of bridges, by a “sound artist” named Jodi Rose. I think they sound pretty cool.
Rob Walker writes the weekly “Consumed” column for The New York Times Magazine.
*** DANIEL RADOSH
It almost seems too obvious to mention. Like if someone asked you your favorite food and you said “oxygen.” Google is like oxygen. Except that if you get too much, you don’t get high. I’ve tried.
Two weeks after Slate launched in 1996, some friends and I put together a parody that mocked it mercilessly. (Sorry, Stale is no longer online. If you’re patient you can read some of it cached here. Our snotty take was, as I put it then, “Slate’s attitude felt like the colonists coming to the new world and saying this would be great if the natives just put on some clothes.” Well you know what, clothing turns out to be pretty fucking awesome after all. True, it took Slate a while to find it’s groove, but today it’s not just the best original journalism online, it’s one of the best journals of commentary and opinion, peroid. As a contributing editor at The Week (plug, plug), I read more magazines than I can count, and most of the time, I know what they’re going to say even before they do. Slate always surprises me.
I know, lame, right? Like if someone asked you your favorite place in the world and you said Wal-Mart.Well, sorry, but I’ve long ago come to terms with the fact that commerce is one of the things the Web does best, and nobody does it better than Amazon (certainly not Wal-Mart). Seriously, do you remember what a pain in the ass shopping was 10 years ago? And while some of Amazon’s whistles and bells are just dumb (gold box, anyone?), most of the sites enhancements actually do enhance the shopping experience. I browse there as often as I buy. The only other commerce site that came close to making this list was Netflix, but while I love the Netflix service, I’m not crazy about the site itself. Amazon is a place I can go and waste time.
4. Google News
The Web has always been great for news junkies, but I was waiting for this site for years without knowing it. I kind of hope it never comes out of beta, because the random slip-ups (inappropriate photos, humorously clipped headlines) only liven up the news gathering experience.
5. Snopes Urban Legend Reference Pages
If everyone knew to check Snopes before forwarding that e-mail about the IQ of red states or how the Pentagon was not hit by an airplane on 9/11 or what Nina Totenberg said “this morning” on NPR, people would be forwarding a lot fewer stupid e-mails. While I half wish I didn’t need to refer my friends and mother to Snopes as often as I do, I certainly enjoy being able to check it so that I can feel all superior about not being suckered as often as some people are.
Daniel Radosh is a freelance writer.
*** JOE LAVIN
Today in Slate, why the color black may be closer to white than you think, why Mother Teresa wasn’t all that, and why articles based on conventional wisdom are much less interesting than the stuff that Slate publishes.
2. Baseball Think Factory
A very geeky baseball site that features long detailed discussions about defense-independent pitching statistics, the importance of on-base percentage, and exactly how much of an idiot Tim McCarver is.
Does online radio count as a web site? Regardless, this Los Angeles radio station is the station heard most often in my Boston-area apartment.
4. Open Letters
Letters. Just letters. That’s all there is here. The site hasn’t been updated for three years, but it still features some of the best writing on the net.
This hidden gem of a web site is one of the best ways to find information online. Get hours of enjoyment just from typing in your own name or even that of a co-worker or potential date. You might also consider trying Yahoo, another exciting new web site chock full of information.
Joe Lavin is always on the cutting edge of technology at joelavin.com.
*** BRIAN LEWANDOWSKI
Here we go boys and girls! It’s time for the 5 Websites Your Uncle Bri can’t live without. Of course, to be perfectly honest, none of these sites are in my Top 5 most viewed sites. Most of those sites contain some combination of the words beaver, hot, puffy, deep, lesbian and Water-Pik.
1. Ill Will Press
This is the home of Foamy. Foamy is a trash-talking, bad ass squirrel. Sort of like Bill Maher with nuts. Once you watch a few of these cartoon rants you will be hooked.
2. Craigslist (Boston)
I like to do searches here using the words beaver, hot, puffy, deep, lesbian and Water-Pik. I have experienced many interesting people. I have pictures. I take anti-biotics now too.
The media is conservative… And this liberal media site proves it… Wait… Um… Errr.
4. Boston Common
This is where I go to see what Boston Bloggers are talking about. I often hope it is beavers, hot, puffy, deep, lesbians and Water-Piks. Adam Gaffin does a great job trolling the reads to find what the swell topics of the day are.
5. See. Now I am stuck. Four sites was a lot for me to wrangle up. Damnit I am flat out bust right now. Hey, Bob! Can I use http://www.leasbiansgettinghotandpuffybeaversfromawater-pik.com?
Brian Lewandowski has a penchant for being opinionated, often daily, often at his site, which is not on the above list because he never reads it or spill chicks it. He has a book, Slop and Swill from a Festering Mind. The rest of the time he explores his photographic and artsy sideHe also sells political crap.
*** BOB SASSONE
1. Cooks Illustrated and The Food Network
Yes, I’m a food geek.
2. The Internet Movie Database
Who was that guy in that film I saw the other night?
Links to everything retro: design, movies, TV, architecture, clothing, etc.
4. The Simpsons Archive
The ulitmate Simpsons site. Incredible how exhaustively detailed it is. Need to know what every “couch” opening of the show looked like? What high school did Homer go to? What was the phone number in that one episode from season 6? It’s all here.
Yeah, a safe choice, but still, it’s ebay! Where else can you find such a remarkable array of collectibles AND religious cheese sandwiches?
Bob Sassone edits this magazine.